Matt Harwood

1956 Chrysler Windsor Town & Country Wagon

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12 minutes ago, keiser31 said:

I love the higher than most rear wheel well opening. It shows off those fine wires. 

 

I totally agree. The big wheel opening makes these big cars look sporty, not heavy. We also have a 1956 Desoto sitting in the showroom and it came with fender skirts. Totally ruined the lines of the car and made it look like all the other big barges of the day. Take them off and voila! It is once again sporting and lithe, not clumsy.

 

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Chrysler styling was, in my opinion, the best combination of big car flashy and sporty of all the major manufacturers in the '50s. They avoided the heavy, bulky look that seemed to bog down all the others. Big cars, lots of chrome, but not heavy-looking or clumsy. That Desoto is a VERY big car, considerably larger than the wagon. Yet it looks like a sporty 2+2 and its size is very neatly disguised by the brilliant styling.

 

And yes, the wire wheels certainly add to it. I think it's the deep dish chrome rims that give it that illusion. It obviously transformed the wagon in a big way and I think any Chrysler of the period looks "unfinished" without them. 

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Matt,  Here's a good view of the roof rack and wires on my '56 New Yorker T&C.  The rack has unique red plastic tip lenses. They don't illuminate but I guess you could always wire them up.   Good luck with your search.IMG_0318.JPG.e798fe23a645c7515dba6d2fac8bc2f7.JPG

 

 

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20 hours ago, Hippoco said:

Matt,  Here's a good view of the roof rack and wires on my '56 New Yorker T&C.  The rack has unique red plastic tip lenses. They don't illuminate but I guess you could always wire them up.   Good luck with your search.

 

 

Looks great! Love the exhaust tips from a later car. Our exhausts are routed out the sides behind the wheels, which I think was probably done intentionally to keep fumes from coming in the back window. I bought a set of tips for it but I think they look weird on the side so I left them off. I do love the roof rack, though! I'll keep looking for a correct one rather than settling for something "close enough." Those little red jewels are too cool.

 

I also got the LED taillight replacement and it was indeed a bad bulb. New bulb slotted right in without any effort at all and makes a noticeable difference.

 

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Taillights (LED on left)

 

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Brake lights (LED on left)

 

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Taillights in the dark (LED on left)

 

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Both LEDs (turn signal flashing on left)

 

Not a huge difference, but enough to make me feel OK about spending the $40. The car is already 12 volts, so the standard bulbs were decent but more light (and faster light, which matters in a rear-end situation) is always better. This is my wife and kids in this car, so more visibility never hurts. Oh, and you may note I installed Melanie's new license plate:

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Pulled Melanie's wagon out after the winter and saw that the rear axle was leaking pretty badly--a rather substantial puddle had formed underneath. It was obviously seeping through the joint between the pumpkin and the housing, so we decided to take it apart and re-seal everything. Dr. Francini put it in the air, pulled the driveshaft, and pulled the axles and brake drums without incident. Then he pulled the center section and I was surprised to see what looks like a limited slip unit inside. Can this be correct? That sure looks like a cone-type limited slip unit to me.

 

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Is that a limited slip unit in there?

 

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Does this help?

 

As long as we're at it, we're replacing the bearings and seals, including the pinion seal. That's proving a little difficult to find. We found two different sizes, one for a standard axle and one for an Imperial but neither fit the wagon. Hmmm...  I'll call Andy Burnbaum on Monday and find out if they're available.

 

Then we turned our attention to the driveshaft and figured that now's the time to replace U-joints, too. The rear U-joint is an unusual tab-style piece that I haven't seen before. Burnbaum said that they're extremely scarce and while he has two available, they're $300 each. Ours feels smooth and doesn't bind, so I think I'm going to run with it rather than spend the $300. Andy says they're working on repro units that might be available in the next year or two for a lot less, and given how lightly the car is driven, I'm sure it'll last at least that long. If it gives up, at least replacing it isn't difficult.

 

On the other hand, the boot on the ball-and-trunnion end is shot, so we'll need to replace that. Bearings seem OK so I think we'll just repack it with grease. However, we're kind of puzzling over how to install the boot. Do we need to remove the cross piece and pull off the trunnion housing? Dr. Francini thought maybe he could work the boot over the cross piece and through the trunnion, but I'm not sure that'll work. Any suggestions?

 

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How much disassembly is required to install a boot?

 

What about having a new driveshaft made with modern U-joints at both end? I've read elsewhere that this is a common and relatively inexpensive solution. Has anyone done that?

 

Anyway, we're going to clean and paint everything, then button it back up and hopefully cure one of the big leaks. There's still a power steering leak that we can't seem to find but that's a task for another day. All our personal cars are out of commission right now ('41 Buick: exhaust, '29 Cadillac: springs, '56 Chrysler: rear end, '66 Mustang: heater core) so I'd like to get at least one of them back on the road sooner rather than later. This car has been a reliable runner that's very comfortable, so it's at the head of the list right now. 


Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

I think I recall someone replacing the boot on one of those and it's kind of like a puzzle. You clean the end cap, pull back the cap toward the shaft, DELICATELY feed the boot onto the shaft/pin assembly through the area between the end cap and the shaft & pin, small end first. I believe they shoved it through the small hole in the cap and onto the shaft. Pulled the big end back over the cap and the small end onto the shaft groove. I think they greased it up a little to squeeze it through the hole. It was a long time ago, so I may be out of my mind in what I recall.

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)

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Clean that u joint, grease it up, and run it. They were reliable, and Chrysler used them until 64, maybe 1965 on a model or 2. I don't remember how to get the boot on. Disassembly would be good for cleaning. Keep track of the parts and put the wearing surfaces back the way they were so it doesnt have to break in again.

 

Is that an 8-3/4" rearend? It looks like one. If it is, and you are planning on replacing the axle seals, there is a gotcha. They have to get driven in really deep, and the seal is often warped by the time you get it to the bottom of the bore. Be sure to use a driver that fits good clear to the outside of the seal, and don't use any seals with that red goop on the outer diameter. They drag too much. They will warp, but you wont know until your brakes are full of oil. If you want to seal around the outside (a good idea), use a little indian head, and be sure to drive them in immediately. Indian head is pretty slick when its wet, but not for long.

 

Once upon a time, if you bought CR seals (at the bearing store), they came without the goop. I don't know if thats still true.

 

The inner seals hold the oil in, and the wheel bearings are packed with wheel bearing grease. An outer seal, if it exists (it does on later MoPars), is just to keep crud out of the wheel bearing.

 

There are probably gaskets at the wheels, a real gasket between the flange and the backing plate, and a foam one between the backing plate and the bearing flange. More stuff to keep crud out of the bearing. The oil should never be this far out.

 

I believe the older models (like yours) with tapered axles have a shim pack on each side to set the wheel bearing endplay.

 

I don't remember when Sure-Grip (limited slip) became an option. It really wouldn't surprise me if that is original. On the other hand, if it's 8-3/4, maybe somebody just shoved a different punkin in it. That would explain why you are having trouble getting a pinion seal. BTW the switch from shim adjusted pinion bearings to a crush sleeve occurred in the mid to late 1960s

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I have a sheet of instructions for replacing the boot without removing the cross pin. I've done it once. I'll try to post it later. Zeke

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1 minute ago, zeke01 said:

I have a sheet of instructions for replacing the boot without removing the cross pin. I've done it once. I'll try to post it later. Zeke

 

That would be awesome. Thank you!

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If this doesn’t work send me a P.M. with a mailing address and I will mail you a copy. Zeke

97F6599B-9E51-463E-BADC-C4EF7FF2D4F1.jpeg

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14 hours ago, zeke01 said:

If this doesn’t work send me a P.M. with a mailing address and I will mail you a copy. Zeke

97F6599B-9E51-463E-BADC-C4EF7FF2D4F1.jpeg

THAT is exactly what I was remembering. Thank you for verifying my memory. It explains it much better than I did.

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Got the boot on its way from Burnbaum but they don't have the pinion seal I need most (which was the source of the leak). The standard one is too small and the one for the Imperial is too large, so it appears that the wagon used something unique. Sadly, Burnbaum doesn't have one so I'm looking for other sources.

 

Does anyone have a parts book and can look up a part number for a 1956 Chrysler Windsor station wagon pinion seal or maybe the specs on it? I might be able to find one on Ebay or something, or perhaps someone has another supplier who might have such a thing?

 

With the part number I can probably track one down. Can anyone help? Thank you!

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Hello Matt,try taking the old pinion seal to a bearing supply store,I think every town in the u.s. has one,they can usually have it the next day if not in stock,     Dave

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On 5/13/2019 at 11:17 AM, Matt Harwood said:

Got the boot on its way from Burnbaum but they don't have the pinion seal I need most (which was the source of the leak). The standard one is too small and the one for the Imperial is too large, so it appears that the wagon used something unique. Sadly, Burnbaum doesn't have one so I'm looking for other sources.

 

Does anyone have a parts book and can look up a part number for a 1956 Chrysler Windsor station wagon pinion seal or maybe the specs on it? I might be able to find one on Ebay or something, or perhaps someone has another supplier who might have such a thing?

 

With the part number I can probably track one down. Can anyone help? Thank you!

 

 

Hi Matt. I'll check my NOS inventory. I may have one. Glad the ire wheels worked out for you. The car looks great with them on it.

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2 minutes ago, dpcdfan said:

Hi Matt. I'll check my NOS inventory. I may have one. Glad the ire wheels worked out for you. The car looks great with them on it.

 

The wire wheels are awesome! We (especially Melanie) can't thank you enough. They totally make the car and now that we have the correct axles, hubs, and drums on it, everything fits the way it's supposed to. I didn't like that spacer, although it worked while we tracked down the right parts. The thing looks like a million bucks sitting on those wheels.

 

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I also found a pinion seal from Mopar Mall. It was expensive ($130) but what the heck--we shouldn't have to do it again, right?

 

Thank you for all the help guys; the car should be back on its feet by Friday so Melanie can use it Saturday at an event for one of her friends who wants some '50s cars to add atmosphere. Maybe I'll take the '60 Cadillac convertible even though it's not technically a '50s car. I've been meaning to take that one for a spin now that the weather is nice.

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3 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Maybe I'll take the '60 Cadillac convertible even though it's not technically a '50s car.

 

Check the build date. ;) 

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All together and running great. Smooth and quiet. Melanie drove it to the title office this morning, but then the rain came. She's planning on driving it daily this summer.

 

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Had a flat-out awesome time this afternoon with the cast of "Jukebox Jam" at Streetsboro (Ohio) High School. It's a self-produced and written musical featuring songs of the '50 and '60s, stringing them together to tell a rather important story. We saw the show last night, but their big night is tonight (Saturday) so they asked us to bring a few '50s cars to decorate the parking lot before the show. Melanie drove the wagon and I grabbed the '60 Cadillac convertible out of the showroom and we headed over. Take a look and note how much fun those kids are having--more than one of the girls said she would love to own that pink wagon. They're into it if they have a chance to actually touch it. We let them sit, stand, pose, and pretty much get comfortable with the cars (and no, that girl isn't really smoking while she's leaning on the Cadillac, she was trying to strike a pose). They asked permission but once they saw that we weren't going to scold them and that it was cool, they really loosened up and had a lot of fun. One of the other guys there said he'd lose his mind if people touched his cars like that, but I pointed out this was totally respectful, not just ignorant groping. It wasn't kids just climbing all over a car--they were having fun but they were careful. There's a difference and it showed. I'm very impressed by these kids--they loved the cars and were so happy to have them there.

 

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I should also point out that these are some seriously talented kids. They sang all the songs and played all the instruments--no lip synch or recorded tracks, and there's some pretty challenging music (think Frankie Valli falsetto and big girl voice songs like "You Don't Own Me"). Most of the kids were quite good, but the girl sitting in the driver's seat of the white Cadillac was something else--what the heck is she still doing in Nowheresville, Ohio? She belted out "RESPECT" like Aretha herself and "River Deep, Mountain High" just as well as Tina Turner. I'm not really into musical theater or singing, but her talent was such that even a know-nothing like me could tell she was head and shoulders above everyone else. Wow.

 

Get your cars out and let the kids get comfortable. You'll all have a great time!

 

 

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Cool! I try to get the kids interested in the old cars and give rides in my '31 coupe whenever I can. They LOVE that.

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